The best novels framed around music and seen through the eyes of a musician

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked: “Are you a musician? You must be, in order to write so beautifully and convincingly, through the eyes of a musician!” Actually, I’m what’s known as a “serious amateur”—which means that I study the piano “seriously” but not professionally, purely for the love of it. In fact, my understanding of the piano deepened tremendously as I worked on this book, as if my protagonist required that of me, in order to bring her to life the way she needed.  The piano has become more and more vital to me, as a writer, because it allows me to explore and express in ways that don’t depend on words. 


I wrote...

The Sound Between the Notes

By Barbara Linn Probst,

Book cover of The Sound Between the Notes

What is my book about?

What if you had a second chance at the very thing you thought you’d renounced forever? How high a price would you be willing to pay?

Susannah put her career as a pianist on hold for sixteen years and didn’t look back. But now, suddenly, she has a chance to vault into that elite tier of “chosen” musicians. There’s just one problem: somewhere along the way, she lost the power and the magic that used to be hers at the keyboard. She needs to get them back—fast. As her now-or-never concert draws near, Susannah is catapulted back to memories she’s never been able to purge—and forward, to the country-and-western sister she’s never known, and choices she never thought she’d have to make. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Lost Concerto

Barbara Linn Probst Why did I love this book?

In The Lost Concerto a woman has set aside her career as a classical pianist, for deeply personal reasons—then finds herself not only reclaiming her music, but also finding answers to a past mystery as well as new connections in the present. Both novels are about loss, love, and the power of music to lift and heal us. What makes The Lost Concerto especially appealing is its cross-genre blend of suspense, intrigue, stolen art, and the journey from vengeance to courage. You won’t be able to put it down!

By Helaine Mario,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Concerto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SILVER WINNER: 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

FINALIST: 2016 National Indie Excellence Awards

FINALIST: 2016 International Book Award  – Mystery/Suspense Category 

A woman and her young son flee to a convent on a remote island off the Breton coast of France.  Generations of seafarers have named the place Ile de la Brume, or Fog Island. In a chapel high on a cliff, a tragic death occurs and a terrified child vanishes into the mist.

The child’s godmother, Maggie O’Shea, haunted by the violent deaths of her husband and best friend, has withdrawn from her life as a classical pianist. But…


Book cover of Everything You Are

Barbara Linn Probst Why did I love this book?

In Everything You Are, Braden is a cellist who has lost the use of his hands—in his case, through a tragic twist of fate. Enter Ophelia, granddaughter of the man who sold Branden his cello and made Ophelia swear that he will always play it. Author Kerry Anne King weaves a magical spell around these two characters as, together, they find their way to forgiveness. This is a story full of twists and turns, culminating in a beautiful ending that depicts the healing power of music.

By Kerry Anne King, Kerry Anne King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything You Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Whisper Me This comes a haunting and lyrical novel about the promises we make and the forgiveness we need when we break them.

One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey's hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, Braden wants desperately to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.

When his ex-wife and son are killed in a car accident, Braden returns home, hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can…


Book cover of The Weight of a Piano

Barbara Linn Probst Why did I love this book?

The Weight of a Piano is about Clara, a young woman desperate to find her own path—freedom, identity, and connection—but it is also the story of an actual piano, as if the piano were a character, and how that piano has shaped the lives of its owners. Clara is haunted by a past she doesn’t understand, and by an unexpected hand injury that changes the course of her life. There are no easy answers in Cander’s book, and an ending you won’t see coming. Truly an original novel that will linger in your heart and mind for a long time.

By Chris Cander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Weight of a Piano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For fans of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, Annie Proulx's Accordion Crimes, Amanda Coplin's The Orchardist

A tour-de-force about two women and the piano that inexorably ties their lives together through time and across continents, for better and for worse.

In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia…


Book cover of The Violin Conspiracy

Barbara Linn Probst Why did I love this book?

The Violin Conspiracy is about a talented young violinist, determined to become a world-class professional musician—despite all the obstacles, including poverty and racism. The plot centers around a do-or-die competition that will not only prove Ray’s worth to the world, but also to himself. With its intense depiction of the cutthroat musical world and an underdog the reader will root for, along with the high-stakes drama of a priceless stolen Stradivarius, The Violin Conspiracy blends the best of multiple genres. 

By Brendan Slocumb,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Violin Conspiracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK! • Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music world—when a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.

“I loved The Violin Conspiracy for exactly the same reasons I loved The Queen’s Gambit: a surprising, beautifully rendered underdog hero I cared about deeply and a fascinating, cutthroat world I knew nothing about—in this case, classical music.” —Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author…


Book cover of An Equal Music

Barbara Linn Probst Why did I love this book?

An Equal Music is the lyrical, unforgettable story of a violinist’s determination to reclaim not only his music, but the pianist he loved and lost years ago. Suspenseful, atmospheric, and deeply romantic, it sweeps the reader on a journey through Venice and Vienna, offering a unique view of how a musical quartet works together. There is a secret disease that threatens the very heart of the music—and a poignant, courageous depiction of how that is faced. Written in 2000, An Equal Music is a one-of-a-kind book that will be read for decades to come.

By Vikram Seth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked An Equal Music as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in the present, with flashbacks, An Equal Music (the title is a phrase from a John Donne sermon) is a story of obsessive love narrated by Michael, a violinist from Rochdale in the north of England. He plays in a trio in Vienna in which Julia, half Scottish, half Austrian, is the pianist. He is much taken with her and she with him. But the trio splits up and the participants go their separate ways. Michael goes to London, where he joins a string quartet as second violinist. He feels the absence of Julia from his life keenly. One…


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The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

Book cover of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

Kathryn Betts Adams Author Of The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I was first a clinical social worker and then a social work professor with research focus on older adults. Over the past few years, as I have been writing my own memoir about caring for my parents, I’ve been drawn to memoirs and first-person stories of aging, illness, and death. The best memoirs on these topics describe the emotional transformation in the writer as they process their loss of control, loss of their own or a loved one’s health, and their fear, pain, and suffering. In sharing these stories, we help others empathize with what we’ve gone through and help others be better prepared for similar events in their own lives.

Kathryn's book list on Memoirs illness aging death moving vivid prose

What is my book about?

The Pianist's Only Daughter is a frank, humorous, and heartbreaking exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her mother, an English scholar and poet, and her father, a pianist and music professor. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' newly single father flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Their daughter watches in disbelief…

The Pianist's Only Daughter: A Memoir

By Kathryn Betts Adams,

What is this book about?

Grounded in insights about mental health, health and aging, The Pianist’s Only Daughter: A Memoir presents a frank and loving exploration of aging in an aging expert's own family.

Social worker and gerontologist Kathryn Betts Adams spent decades negotiating evolving family dynamics with her colorful and talented parents: her English scholar and poet mother and her pianist father. Their vivid emotional lives, marital instability, and eventual divorce provided the backdrop for her 1960s and ‘70s Midwestern youth.

Nearly thirty years after they divorce, Adams' father finds himself single and flies in to woo his ex-wife, now retired and diagnosed with…


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